OpinionIsrael at War

In the media war, the only way out is through

The speed, intensity and vapidity of social media actually work to Israel’s advantage.

The New York Times distribution truck. Credit: ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock.
The New York Times distribution truck. Credit: ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock.
Benjamin Kerstein
Benjamin Kerstein is a writer and editor living in Tel Aviv. Read more of his work on Substack at No Delusions, No Despair. Purchase his books here.

It was inevitable, and we all knew it. Yes, there was the outpouring of support and sympathy after Hamas’s satanic Oct. 7 massacre of over 1,400 Israelis. But we all knew that, once Israel began to strike back, those victims would be erased—as Jewish victims have always been—and Israel would be cast once again as the satanic murderer of innocent Palestinians.

The moment seemed to have come on Tuesday night when various media outlets, especially The New York Times, claimed that Israel had blown up a Gaza hospital and killed 500 people. The usual suspects in the media quickly had egg on their faces, however, as Israel released evidence proving that Israel was not responsible and that Palestinian Islamic Jihad, via errant rocket fire, almost certainly was.

Nonetheless, we are told by the collaborationist media that this doesn’t matter. The “Arab world” has been inflamed by the incident, which it refuses to believe was caused by anyone but Israel, and various once-sympathetic parties are beginning to turn on the Jewish state and seek to hamper its war effort.

What, then, should Israel do about this? Can it stem the tide of willful derangement? Should it launch its own media campaign to convince detractors of its innocence? Should it restrain its military efforts to prove its good intentions? Should it bow down and kiss A.G. Sulzberger’s feet in penance?

This is a dilemma that Israel will repeatedly face in the coming days and weeks. It is a moral certainty that the media will continue to devalue Jewish lives and sanctify Palestinian lives. Every move Israel makes will be declared an atrocity and a war crime. Today it is a hospital. Tomorrow, who knows? The event in question doesn’t really matter, because the narrative will remain the same.

One can indulge in naïve optimism and believe that, if Israel simply tells the truth, everything will be fine. But attempts to counter every New York Times-endorsed blood libel in detail are doomed to failure. Israel will find itself playing whack-a-mole with racist lunatics when it should be fighting a war, and it is the war that is all-important.

What Israel should do, then, is simple: Keep going. The only way out is through. No matter what the media says, stick to the plan, pound the bastards, destroy Hamas. If the Americans or the Europeans object because of some media frenzy, tell them that Israel does not have time for such frivolities and could we please get back down to business.

If they answer that the “Arab world” is going nuts because of some New York Times-endorsed blood libel, they should be told that, when it comes to Israel, the “Arab world” has been nuts for a long time. It will believe literally anything, however deranged, racist or antisemitic, that allows it to remain comfortable with its hatreds. This isn’t going to change anytime soon, and we will all simply have to get used to it.

This might seem like a pipe dream or even a suicidal recipe for Israel’s total demonization, but it is not, because it is actually Israel that has the advantage in today’s media landscape.

Yes, it is true that lies and blood libels can go around the world within nanoseconds on social media. It is true that countering the resulting storm of disinformation is almost impossible.

But it is also true that social media cannot pay attention to anything for more than those few nanoseconds. Something may go viral for an hour, even a day or two, but today’s attention spans have been so truncated that these memes disappear almost instantly as a world of screen-grabbed influencers moves on to the next vicarious atrocity.

This means that all Israel has to do is outlast the lie, and thanks to the new media landscape, that lie has the lifespan of a mayfly. Within a day or so, the destroyed hospital in Gaza will be as if it never existed. Yes, the world will soon become entranced by similar blood libel, but that will disappear just as quickly. There will be another and another, and perhaps another on top of that, but they will swiftly disappear as well. Then, sooner or later, the moronic inferno will get bored with Gaza, as it gets bored with everything. It will move on to something more interesting, likely to do with the atrocities of the Kardashians or something equally demented.

While the world is spiraling down its vortex of vapidity, however, Israel will be getting the job done. It will be going about the work of destroying the ISIS that has emerged on its southern border and, hopefully, containing the other ISIS on its northern border. God willing, it will emerge from this war battered and scarred but also safer and more secure, and can then turn itself to the all-important job of exacting bloody vengeance from its ultimate enemy in Iran.

The way to win the media war, then, is to understand that the media is like a two-year-old child. When a child throws a tantrum, we are told, the worst thing one can do is indulge its whims. Instead, the child should be left to scream and shout itself hoarse, because in short order it will forget whatever it was angry about and move on to the next thing that happens to occupy its momentary attention. And it will know that its bad behavior will not be rewarded in the future, making further tantrums far less likely to occur.

Israel should remember this above all, because the media is a transitory threat. It seems to roar like a volcano but it is in fact nothing more than the flatulence of an obese, drug-addled teenager. The media can do what it wants and say what it wants, but it doesn’t matter, because in a few hours it will be doing and saying something else.

Israel, on the other hand, has the advantage of knowing exactly what it needs to do and say: We are fighting for our survival and we will continue to do so by any means necessary.

Let the world throw its tantrums. They will be intense but brief and ultimately meaningless. We should not take them seriously and we should advise our allies not to take them seriously either. Israel can win the media war by doing nothing more than acting like a mature and responsible adult.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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